The Vancouver Sun
“This is the voice that registers majesty, that paints big sorrows and big happinesses, that speaks with God; a voice for emperors and prophets and victorious generals.”
For almost three decades, Samuel Ramey has reigned as one of the music world’s foremost interpreters of bass and bass-baritone operatic and concert repertoire. Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust has become his most-performed role with over 200 performances in more than twenty productions. He is equally well-known in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world for his performances of Boito’s Mefistofele, including over 70 performances in the Robert Carsen production of this work specifically created for Mr. Ramey, Méphistophélès in Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, Nick Shadow in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, and the tour-de-force of all four villains in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Mr. Ramey presented a sold-out concert at Avery Fisher Hall [David Geffen Hall] entitled A Date with the Devil, which program was also presented in Munich’s Gasteig Concert Hall and was recorded live by Naxos Records.
Other opera roles of Mr. Ramey include Verdi’s Attila, Zaccaria in Nabucco, King Phillip II and the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo, Fiesca in Simon Boccanegra, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Olin Blitch in Floyd’s Susannah, Rossini’s Maometto II, the title role in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Claudius in Thomas’s Hamlet, Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca, Claggart in Britten’s Billy Budd, and Massenet’s Don Quichotte. He has appeared on the stages of The Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Vienna Staatsoper, Opéra de Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Hamburg, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Zürich Opera, Teatro la Fenice, Teatro Colon, and Dutch National Opera. In concert, he has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, La Scala Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Ramey has worked with every major conductor including James Conlon, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Kent Nagano, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Bernstein, Lorin Maazel, Claudio Abbado, Sir Colin Davis, Julius Rudel, Sir Georg Solti, and Herbert von Karajan.
Samuel Ramey holds the distinction of being the most recorded bass in history. His more than eighty recordings include complete operas, recordings of arias, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums on every major label. His recordings have garnered many awards, including three Grammy Awards, Gran Prix du Disc Awards, and “Best of the Year” citations from journals including Stereo Review and Opera News. Mr. Ramey has a lso been featured frequently on television in appearances with “Live from the Met” and “Live from Lincoln Center” as well as other productions taped for PBS.
A native of Colby, Kansas, Mr. Ramey was active in music throughout high school and college. In 1995, he was named “Kansan of the Year,” and in 1998 the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the rank of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters. Mr. Ramey is currently Distinguished Professor of Opera at Wichita State University.